A man denied murdering his mother-in-law in a fire at the family home.

Simon Childs also entered a not guilty plea to attempting to murder a young child who was treated for smoke inhalation and a leg injury.

The 52-year-old entered the pleas at Maidstone Crown Court by TV link with Elmley Prison.

Grandmother Jackie Allen, 65, died after being rescued from the blaze at the house in Spitfire Road, West Malling, near Kings Hill, on November 17.

The injured child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is expected to give evidence. A dog also died in the blaze.

A provisional trial date was set for May 13 next year, but Judge David Griffiths-Jones QC said it was now likely to be on May 1 at a court out of the county before a High Court judge.

“It is likely it will not be at this court,” he said. “I can’t say where it will take place. I am sorry to leave things in that way.”

Grandmother Jackie Allen, 65, died in a house fire in West Malling (6117495)
Grandmother Jackie Allen, 65, died in a house fire in West Malling (6117495)

Prosecutor Emma Smith said a full fire investigation report would be ready by January 25.

A pre-trial review will be held on April 4.

Floral tributes to Mrs Allen were left near the home and friends and neighbours set up online fundraising pages to help pay for funeral costs and other expenses.

Childs lived at the house with his wife Mandy, who was not there at the time of the fire.

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